I had a very existential Facebook argument with my brother Jared one day.  Under normal circumstances, I tend to try to stay away from those, but Jared’s a really smart guy and it’s fun to fence with people who can legitimately argue their position with accuracy and reason.  The idea was just that – that an idea could change perception, and with that perception comes a change in reality.

My argument is that truth and reality are based exclusively on what you think know, what you see, what you feel – what you perceive as real.  That can be very, very different than what the person next to you may perceive as real.  Are you wearing a Black sweater?  Yes, but we both see it, feel it, touch it1 –  a perception unequivocal and shared.   But if you’re sitting at one end of the train car from the person who thinks your sweater is Black but really, it’s a Navy Blue, well, that person is right in their own mind – within their own perception – until proven wrong by walking closer and realizing, oh.. I’ve made a serious error.

Case in point:  Until Magellan’s slave made it back to Spain to proudly proclaim to the known world, “World!  I bring you evidence that the Earth is Round!” the perception of the Earth – and therefore the reality propagated by that perception – was that the Earth just absolutely must be flat.  There’s no other way it could be, you dickshot imbecile.

Known world.

Think about that for a second:  The world you know is your reality, yet there are billions of untold secrets the Earth holds for us – let alone six miles straight up from where you sit now – but we sit here awash in a unique perspective of reality.  The untold bits and pieces of what makes up that reality belong expressly to me.  Why?  There’s no way we have read, seen, drank, fucked, amazed and dashed the hopes of the same things – and those building blocks create that reality.

Sure, there are underlying, infallible truths that we accept.  The Earth Is Round.  But nobody reading this right now – unless you called your spacefaring aunt to come read this sentence and thereby blow my mind – has seen this for themselves.  But when we realize that we accept truths rather than experience them, we leave ourselves open to the greatest philosophical loophole:  prove it.

So when I sat here and told my daughter, after she asked me point blank whether Santa Claus was real, that, no, baby girl, Santa Claus isn’t real, her tears and anxiety changed my perception.  The idea of Santa Claus – the joy, the presents, the childhood – became reality, a reality that I absolutely refused to shatter.

“How do you know he isn’t real??”

And with that, I sacrificed my personal integrity to be a better Dad, because Fuck You, You’re A Dick If You’re Going To Crush Your Child’s Reality For The Sake Of Truth.

When she calmed down and I’d successfully, yet messily, extracted myself from the situation by telling her she’d really given me something to think about, she sat there licking her ice cream cone as if nothing had happened.  “Let’s talk tomorrow, Dad,” she said as she let her legs relax from her chest and brushed the errant hair sticking to her damp cheek, “and you tell me after work whether or not you believe in Santa, because if you don’t, then that means Santa’s not in your heart.  Feel it here,” as she pointed to her chest.  And with a finger to her forehead, she showed me the error in my logic.

“Not here.”

Maybe it’s not the Captain’s place to tell the Queen’s subjects that the Earth isn’t Flat.  Maybe it takes one of the people.

So be it, and I’ll happily relax under the shade of Childhood for a long as I can.

  1. or maybe not if you don’t want to get arrested for assault []
 

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